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The Iowa Agriculturist

Planting: Corn

One of the many things learned from American Indians was the way to make corn. Probably none of the early settlements such as Plymouth and Jamestown could have lived without corn.

Corn became a very popular crop because it could be planted and cultivated in rows, was good for humans and livestock, and grew well in the Midwest's climate. Moreover, farmers could produce new varieties of corn by a process called breeding.

Corn farming was very different from wheat farming. Corn was planted later in the spring, and therefore harvested after the small grain crops were taken care of. Also, corn crops needed little care in comparison to wheat.

During the early years of Iowa's settlement, corn was planted by hand. Hand planters were a very familiar sight on many farms.

Planting corn by hand

After 1870 improvements were made over the early tools. Horse-drawn planters, operated by at least two people, were soon commonplace. Straight rows were a matter of pride with the farmer, but very difficult to obtain.

Horse-drawn corn planter

From: Explorations in Iowa History Project, Price Laboratory School, University of Northern Iowa, Cedar Falls, IA

Photos used by permission from the State Historical Society of Iowa.

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